Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Guest Blog: Am I Related? Definitely. Maybe.

My fourth cousin once removed, Sarah Semple, reached out to me through Ancestry.com about a year ago. And what a treasure she has turned out to be. She lives in New Zealand, has written several books about genealogy, which are all fascinating; helped me with my great great grandmother Margaret Semple's family, immediate and extended; and taught me to really put records about a person in context with other people in their lives to determine if they really belong to "my" person. 

So over to Sarah...

New Zealand has a population of over 4.4 million people.  If you want to track down a Semple amongst the population, you will find 22 entries in the electronic white pages, of whom four are directly related to me (mother, brother, cousins).  The Semple name would not mean anything to people in New Zealand if it hadn’t been for Robert (Bob) Semple (1873-1955) – coalminer, trade unionist, politician and general stirrer.

The Honorable Robert Semple, New Zealand Minister
for Public Works and Transport, 1935

Bob was born on 21 October 1873 at Crudine Creek, near Sofala, on the New South Wales goldfields in Australia.  He joined the mining union, often getting involved in lengthy, bitter and violent disputes.  When he became blacklisted in Australia, he moved to New Zealand and soon involved himself in the mining unions of his adopted country.  He was known as “Bob the Ranter” or “Fighting Bob”. He was jailed in 1913 for supporting the general strike and again in 1916 after fighting conscription for overseas service.

Bob then entered politics, serving nine terms as a Labour Member of Parliament and held a number of infrastructure portfolios, such as Minister of Public Works and Minister of Railways.  He was flamboyant, colourful and devoted to the task of making working class lives better.

When people find out my family name, their next comment is usually “I hope that you are not related to that stirrer Bob Semple”.  I have not been able to identify any links to Bob Semple, however his wife Margaret McNair (1876-1967) is definitely related to me.  Her grandfather Thomas McNair and my great great great grandmother were brother and sister.

Margaret (McNair) Semple and her husband, Bob

So while I can claim to have no “stirrers” blood in me, I can say with a grin on my face, that my family is obviously attracted to stirrers.

1 comment:

  1. Ohmy gracious, Schalene and Sarah Semple, until your blog Schalene, I had not heard of the Semples, but my DNA on ancestry.com says I am kin to them. My family history, which is disagreed with by main stream researchers, says that my 5th great grandmother who was our first immigrant to this country from scotland in 1747, married to Robert Hogg, and with a son named Robert Hogue (changed the spelling in America). she was named Mary McNair! Unfortunately, there is a lot of debate about this union, so I have not been able to prove it, although it is sated in a body of research published to family in the 1950's. I am going to share your blog with my cousin on facebook! One of Mary McNair's diescendants,Cheryl Heiskanen Fazzini, a cousin, we hope, and a friend who lives in Colorado, USA, just returned from like a two month trip to New Zealand to visit relatives! Oh,i wonder if she knows aobut the semples and your connection to the McNaiirs! Our Mary McNair is the daughter of John McNair
    1696 – 1759 and Janet Muir,1697 – 1760
    with siblings:
    Janet McNair
    1735 –

    Robert McNair
    1737 –

    Mathew McNair
    1739 – 1811